Monday, April 26, 2010

Of Books & Brownville

I never would have expected to meet people named "Cinnamon" and "Beef," let alone in one day, but it happened this past Saturday in Brownville, Nebraska, the site of the annual Wine, Writers & Song Festival.

Actually, I had met the festival's organizer, Cinnamon Dokken, twice at the Nebraska Book Festival - she had invited me to Brownville last year, but it was the same weekend as the Fort Robinson History Conference (the FRHC had "Forts of the Central and Northern Plains" as its theme, and when you write a book called "Forts of the Northern Plains," you HAVE to go). But I really wanted to visit Brownville and I was not disappointed.

I came to town through the Nebraska Humanities Council and gave my "Forts of Nebraska" presentation at the Schoolhouse Gallery. I was the first presenter of the day, so it was nicely attended but not a packed house. Cinnamon told me later that a music festival in nearby Auburn probably impacted it, as well as reports the Missouri River bridge was closed (it wasn't); I figured the talk of tornadoes and hail didn't help either, but the weather was nice all day.

Paul Johnsgard, noted Nebraska ornithologist, followed me for the non-fiction block and talked about birds and getting published and being a bestseller - very nice talk and he had about five more attending than I did.

You can walk everywhere in Brownville for the most part, and you should. There are plenty of examples of mid-1800s architecture in the town and a good number of the homes are restored and inhabited. This is one of Nebraska's oldest towns and most picturesque.

Sue and I went to the Lyceum Cafe and Bookstore for a fantastic lunch and then went walking around the downtown area. We ran into a couple from Holdrege who said they wanted to go to my talk but had just got to town - so I sold them a copy of the book! We stopped at Cinnamon's store - A Novel Idea - and I found a copy of The Encyclopedia of the Great Plains for only 20 bucks.

Sell a book, buy a book - that's pretty much what the day included. We continued the afternoon at the new Antiquarium bookstore (it was formerly in Omaha's Old Market) for a talk by Beef Torrey (yes, his name is "Beef") and Kevin Simonson, co-editors of "Conversations with Hunter S. Thompson. I was once kind of an HST fan and did enjoy the discussion and also bought a copy of their book. The biggest surprise of the day came later when I was talking with Beef, who said that he had actually read my book and was impressed with the amount of coverage it had received. Nice! We also sat in on a talk by Amy Knox Brown, who was nice enough to come to my talk and buy a copy of the book - Sue wanted to get her collection of short stories, so - again - sell a book, buy a book.

A little more sight-seeing around town, then to the Whiskey Run Creek Winery, where we took part in a wine-and-appetizer tasting event, which was something like a competition between meat and vegan dishes (the coconut halibut won, in our opinion). That was followed up with a tour of the winery's historic wine cave - we're standing in line to enter it here - and production facility, and then we went up to the old Brownville cemetery for a tour of our own.

Just a beautiful day with the weather held at bay - it actually turned out better than Sunday which was supposed to be the better of the two days but was actually cold and windy.
In follow up to my last blog, "Little George" was replaced by "Dan," a dark blue Toyota Corolla. I'm calling it Dan after Custer's back-up horse - this is kind of MY back-up horse after George's demise, but he's kind of cavalry blue. I'm not awfully fond of him, but he should get me through the completion of my next book!

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